Asia

New Zealand confirms Afghanistan pullout plan

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Media captionNato Secretary General Fogh Rasmussen: "This is not a race to exit"

New Zealand has formally announced it will pull its troops out of Afghanistan by April 2013.

Officials say this is a reflection of "careful logistical planning" and is part of the international forces' transition plan.

New Zealand has deployed troops in Afghanistan since 2003 and currently has 140 soldiers in Bamiyan province.

The announcement comes after five New Zealand soldiers were killed in two incidents last month.

"Over its 10-year deployment, the New Zealand PRT [Provincial Reconstruction Team] has contributed to international counter-terrorism efforts, improved security, and the development and governance of Bamiyan province," Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman said in a statement.

"The timetable announced today reflects weeks of careful logistical planning, especially since news that the Bamiyan airport will not be available to Hercules flights after April 2013, due to a major upgrade of the runway," he added.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said New Zealand would continue to support Afghanistan.

He added that this would include sending trainers to the Afghan army training academy, as well as financial and development aid to the country.

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